Archive for the ‘future’ Category

Fyah links Friday

indexHey Fyah Family, this week has been full of stuff. Good stuff, bad stuff and all that lies in between. For the bad and in-between I found some internet inspiration. I hope you enjoy it as well.

1) My younger sister is a boss. Caring, funny and smart, she is the true super-star and heart of my family. She also happens to have special needs. When I read about Aaron Philip in the NY Times it automatically thought of her and her bravery and strength navigating this world that sadly does not appreciate her skills and contributions.  Read this story about Aaron and check and follow his tumblr.

2) I came across this listing of photographs depicting  love/love stories and even my jaded icebox of a heart went all warm and mushy. Awwww 🙂

3) So, life as a grad student is  something I think you have to experience to believe. Readings, grades, assignments, schedules, a shit load more readings and assignments, working as a TA, working on a thesis, looking for a job that pays cus this tuition is expensive, more readings and assignments, weight gain, and then it all seems worth it  for the times when I am reminded that it is pretty great to be a grad student. Yes, it actually is that frenetic. I was sitting at my desk staring at about 6 student emails about something or the other  and during one of my Facebook breaks , I came across this hilariously revealing post.  Fellow grad schoolers or recent grads, let me know if this resonates.

Have a great weekend!

Fyah Friday links

malala

1. October 2013 marks one year since Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen – her “crime”, to have spoken up for the right of girls to be educated in a blog that she was managing anonymously for a few years.  This is the first in depth interview she has given since the attack and she has some very interesting views on how she believes peace can be attained with the Taliban through discussions.

Two things stood out to me:

  • The treatment of women and girls by the Taliban was used as a reason for intervention and military action. I took some time to look for what has been done to attempt to learn about some of the plans to achieve this objective and was unsuccessful. I certainly found out a lot about military engagement though.
  • Malala believes that the US (hmmm) and ambiguous governments are the ones responsible for brokering peace with the Taliban. She hopes to take an active role in this in the future as she aspires to hold political office.  I hope that she can continue to bring a voice to girls in her region but her sources of that hope give me pause.

2. Since the tragic shooting in Newton CT. late last year, the public discussions around dealing with people living with mental illness has been really difficult to sit through. Laws that significantly compromise confidentiality in mental health care and stigmatize those in treatment or who may have been treated in the past have been rolled out in a frenzy to appease some unfounded urge to save ‘us’ from them ‘them’

This Atlantic article shows are ill-prepared police officers are to deal with mental illness in times of crisis, relating the the recent shooting death by the police of a woman at Capitol Hill

I was reminded about attempts to facilitate gender training sessions with police and immigration officers . I left those sessions knowing that most officers were only there because they had be and were less than concerned about the subject matter. Additionally, the  fact that these sessions were being as one-off sessions and not part of comprehensive mandatory training , made me even less hopeful that the change I was hoping for would be realized.

images3.  Sigh. Why does the Dominican Republic want to manufacture more hardship for people of Haitian descent? The Constitutional Court in Santo Domingo has ruled in favor of stripping citizenship from children of Haitian migrants. The decision applies to those born after 1929. Really? Really now?  Here, PJ Patterson, former Jamaican PM is asking that CARICOM take a stand to strongly condemn this ruling.  What does strongly condemn really mean? I don’t know. But hopefully enough negative attention on this matter will force the D.R to pull this foolishness back.

Music Wednesday

 

1. Kelis

2. Alanis Morrisette

3.  Dixie Chicks

Fyah Friday

Fantastic

 

Here are a few randoms that caught my eye this week.

  1. This was an interesting article about the far-reaching fallout of the recent Lance Armstrong developments. I do not have any tattoos although I have come close a few times. Apart from a family member’s name, I don’t think I have found is a symbol/word/picture that I can commit to.  I found it interesting how these people viewed their body art when the LiveStrong association became tainted by association.
  2. I came across this one on a sisteren’s facebook page. While the Harlem Shake viral video phenomenon has been rather interesting, I was struck that there were so many people that don’t know the original Harlem Shake dance. Apparently someone else felt this way and went to the streets of Harlem to ask Harlem natives what they think about the videos baring their neighbourhood’s name. It is funny to watch but it provides current proof that appropriation is so very real.
  3. Any Fire Stirrers in Philly should go check out this exhibit of costumes worn by the Supreme’s. I would argue them to be one of the most significant music groups in US music history and I would like to personally thank them for influencing some of my favourite songs and groups. The costumes are awesome. Can you tell that I like glitter J?
  4. Last but surely not least is this new Amnesty International petition to put sexual and reproductive health and rights on the global agenda. Sign on! Take part! My Body! My Rights

Have a great weekend!

fyah fridays- occupying space

one billion risingAre you rising on the 14th February? I will be. So will many around the world. Much of my writing, reading and some of my working has been around raising awareness around sexual violence. 1 Billion is a large number, find a rising near you…. learn the dance (debbie allen’s teaching) or create your own but make that day and the days to come one/ones in which you rise against sexual violence. Big up to igds at Cave Hill in Barbados.

Speaking of taking over spaces. Qui Dorian says take over yoga studios this year! I’m all for it… well I would be if it
yoga matdidn’t cost so much. That’s why I’m uber thankful for Brown Girl’s yoga for making a space that feels comfortable and accessible for people who look like me to practice.  I can’t do headstands, I’m not dreaming that far ahead… and the thought of one day being able to do the crow pose makes me simultaneously giddy and frustrated… but I do believe the practice helps me. I pay attention to my body, and for 20-60 minutes there’s nothing else to do but be with me. It for me has been a gift.


I was raped t shirtNnzinga Job’s TEDx Port of Spain talk on Love, rape and sex
.  She talks as a survivor, a believer and a dreamer. What stood out to me most was her sharing that her realisation that we create the meaning of sex has in our lives, once we do this it is so much easier to say no. Journal people, our, all our journeys are worth documenting. Towards the end she shares tips for a healthy sex life. I was going to list my favourite but I actually love them all: 

#2 take the time to know what you like and dislike sexually and why

#3 have sex only to celebrate and commemorate never to forget

#4 get physically fit and flexible and practice sexual expressiveness through dance

#5 save money into a sex fund

Completely off topic but had my cracking up. Artists who need to stop making crappy music. I disagree with Erykah making the list. I loved New microphoneAmerkyah Volume 2. But everyone else, so feeling their place on the list plus I think it’s hilarious that Alicia Keys isn’t on the list b/c we have to accept her albums have never really cut it to start with. lol

black power booksClosing off, 100 books by black women everyone should read. I’ve read about a third of them; and it’s not nearly as straight and African-American as I thought it would be. Shout out to all the queer, African and Caribbean (and their intersections) authors on the list. Check it out- Nalo Hopkinson, audre lorde, Jamaica Kincaid, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Stacey Ann Chinn, Octavia Butler, Shirley Chisolm…. come one, you know you’re intrigued.

Conversations

human rightsA few years ago, I heard about a man who had been stuck in an elevator in Manhattan for five days because he refused to call for help. He was an undocumented worker who chose to stay in a dark, dangling and dangerous elevator rather than use the emergency call button. It he very well could have died in that elevator, and it appeared that he was willing to die before being sent back. That story has stayed with me over the years.

It was on my mind recently when I spent a much longer time than I wanted to discussing cases of human trafficking that have been in the local media in the past year with a dear cousin who is chronically concerned about my feminist ways.

She rolled her eyes as I shared the stories of young women and girls lured with promises, flattery, gifts and glamorous lifestyles. I explained that these women are fed fantasies of the extreme and non-stop partying that they can be a part of if they come to Antigua to dance at a bar or restaurant.

What do they expect?”

“I would never leave my country under those circumstances.”

“They are already whores where they come from.”

When they get here, these women are in instant debt. The plane ticket that was once free, now costs $3,000. Rent must be paid for meagre shared accommodations at $500/week. Food must be bought from the club at $80/day. Clothing and shoes too, at $350/outfit. All owed to the club that brought them here.

The parties are indeed non-stop but you are the entertainment, you need to make money to pay your debts and of course you want to have some money for yourself. The going rate of $50 for a dance and $300-$500 for sex can only go so far. Additionally, your passport is confiscated by your no-longer-gracious host, so even if one of these women wanted to leave, where can you go in this strange new country?

”Well, I would never give anyone my passport.”

”I told you they are whores; they are accustomed to that.”

”How could anyone be that stupid?”

My mind goes back to the man in the elevator. Like him, these women often live in horrendous situations that lead them to make desperate and risky choices. Add someone who is able and willing to exploit that desperation and you have the perfect scenario for human trafficking- modern day slavery.

Are you still trying to convince me that they don’t know what they really come here for?”

Quite honestly, I don’t care.Whether or not she anticipates that she will be a sex worker when she gets here is of little consequence to the greater issue: that she is being deprived of choice, denied of freedom of movement, and criminally exploited in general. Like I said,modern day slavery. To over look this because we’re uneasy about sex work is pretty ridiculous to me.

I left that conversation feeling misunderstood and judged. I shudder to think about what is must be like to be a woman trying to escape a trafficking situation, who can she speak to that will understand? How long will she remain dangling dangerously in her own proverbial elevator?

my struggle with violence

A month ago a parent of a preteen asked me if The Dark Knight is excessively violent. I emphatically responded, “not at all”. I rewatched the movie a few days later, a movie I’ve watched many times  I was near dumbfounded by how violent the first 10 minutes were- the gun violence, the criminal activity, the language, the betrayal… I have pretty much accepted how desensitised I to violence I had become but I didn’t realise it no longer registered. I thought I was of the “oh that’s not scary, I’m not jumping out of my seat, or covering my eyes” garden variety instead that garden variet had a side effect, instead of being unimpressed by the violence, I just no longer think of it as violent. Looking at it with the eyes  of a parent made me much more sensitive to the level and amount of violence throughout the movie.*

I struggle with violence. It’s not that I’m inclined to violence… at least I don’t think so. I had the compulsory and thankfully short-lived physical altercations with you my younger sister until she got taller and stronger than I was. In primary school, I may or may not have had instigated a few tussles with boys in my class that got them into more trouble, since I ran in tears to teachers. Following pre-adolescence, I cringe in real life when I see people get violent, but I almost crave it in my entertainment. Sports, or soap-opera esque sports do not count, those are presented as real. I mean for the cinema experience I tend to enjoy violence. I can’t handle the romantic comedies, or anything too real which leaves out drama, so give me the action and I’ll take it in most forms- straight up, with comedy, thriller or maybe even some suspense.

But this is a problem. Why? B/c clearly I am allowing myself to be co-opted by the glorification of violence in media that makes us less likely to notice, be affected by, and respond to violence that we experience. witness, participate in and practice in our every day lives.

One of the few Independence celebrations I attended in Trinidad, was the Military Tattoo Exhibition. This may have been my first mistake, but was baffled me was how many children there were. It was clearly a family, and child friendly event. The marching displays, the bands… those were fine. However, the tactical displays- the reenactment of the “jokey bad boys” in the hills or on the block who had to be “dealt with”. Who were advanced upon with such care and precision. The dramatic portrayal of the “jokey badman” being tear gassed, shot, hurt and killed was met with delightful screams by the thousands of children present. This is a problem.

As far as I am concerned it’s not enough that the “good” guys won. We know enough about police corruption, policing of the poor and working class worldwide to know that often it is never quite as clear cut as the good and bad. But far more troubling than that is the fact that those same screams of delight come when adolescents watch movies where the “bad guys” win and outsmart whatever the law enforcement may be. We may think we’re glorifying law and order, but in fact the true focus, the true glow is around the violence and winning, regardless of what side you’re on… and I’d argue, what methods you use.

Whether our boys and girls look at officers jumping out of helicopters and think, “that bad!”, or they play Call of Duty and boast about their body count or beg their parents, older siblings and cousins to carry them to a movie they should be seeing, or stay up past everyone in the house to watch it even though they are not supposed to, imitate mobster characters they see on tv, or real-life dons they see on the block they are becoming more and more desensitised to the violence every day.

We/they are more likely to:

  • look at a song like this and say it’s just a song as opposed to recognise the violence both implicit and explicit in it
  • not be alarmed when we see a man assaulting a woman on the street**, or we might be taken back but never think to call the police
  • ignore our neighbour excessively beating their children on a continuous basis, b/c that’s private business
  • hear about police violence in our region and turn the dial without a second thought
  • watch the wreckage and debris in other parts of the world as the results of violence and dismiss it as life in “those parts”
  • be quiet.

I am not advocating censorship,  I’m not saying ban the music, ban the video games, ban the movies etc. I am however advocating critical engagement. We need to encourage ourselves and our children not just to recognise that it’s make beleive, but were it to be believed, it would have real effects on people’s lives. We need to talk about the fact that it is violent, what the messages are behind the violence, why we think they are so, and why we are so complicit with them. These are not easy conversations that I propose but they are certainly necessary and continuous ones. We can no longer afford to see violence and dismiss it so quickly.

Shout out to all the people taking action out there:

* Reason #452 not to have children: Too much hard work

** Please don’t tell me they were fighting, he was hitting, she was cowering.

justice, rape and sexual violence

Trigger warning: This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.

Disclaimer

  • I have written about rape and sexual violence.
  • I have read a lot about rape and sexual violence.
  • I have thought a lot about rape and sexual violence.
  • I support a lot of initiatives regionally that deal with rape and sexual violence.
  • I have said no and it’s been ignored.
  • I have said no and it’s been accepted with grace.
  • I have said no and it’s been accepted and I’ve been made to feel shitty about it.
  • My politics are unapologetically feminist. I think rape is violent and often inextricably linked to masculinist notions of power and entitlement. Victims and survivors of rape (who are predominantly women) are never to blame.
  • I believe that regret regarding a sexual encounter and not wanting it to happen at the time (regardless of whether it is conveyed in ways a partner thinks are “strong enough”) are two very different things. The first indicates a conscious decision to have sex at the time, the second does not.

Today however, my reaction to hearing of a case (of which I know no details) where a man was sentenced to ten years for rape threw me for a loop. I was genuinely shocked at the length of the sentence. Well firstly, I was surprised that the case went to trial, and was successful, without it being a statutory rape case. But secondly, and almost frighteningly and shockingly, I thought: 10 years is too long.

What my reaction made me realise is that I have never really thought about punishment
and consequences surrounding rape and sexual violence. Most of my work has been on the prevention tip. With inspirations like Yes Means Yes I have more readily focused on sexuality, negotiating sexual relationships and teen romance to talk about sexual violence.

Upon further reflection though, my issue is not so much around the sentence itself, or sexual violence but my complete and utter lack of faith in the prison system. For anyone who knows me and my future this is pretty ironic. But I believe Angela Davis has the right idea, prisons need to be abolished. The length of the sentence is not a deterrent and I think in the long run it actually breeds contempt in the individual and the wider community.

Rape and sexual violence are not victim-less crimes but I think we need to think more explicitly about what we would like to see that will make things better. I believe in the possibilities of trans-formative justice. I know we’re not there yet, but I hope one day to be a part of making that shift. So regardless of a conviction, i.e. once a charge is brought, fully off the top of my head I would like to see:

for survivors of sexual violence:

  • praise for coming forward
  • counselling re:
    • (re)building intimacy and trust
    • dealing: with community backlash and negative emotions

for perpetrators of sexual violence

  • counselling re:
    • power, coercion and entitlement
    • negative emotions
  • psycho-education models re: enthusiastic consent

Longer periods in jail do not increase chances of rehabilitation. In the Caribbean as our crime rates continue to rise, and our prisons begin to fill to the brim we need to think more comprehensively about the long term effects of these measures on our communities. As a future mental health professional, I know there are possibilities, I certainly recognise the need. But without a doubt, we need to be more supportive (for the survivors) and creative (for both the survivors and the perpetrators) when it comes to justice.

makes the people come together- Carnival round up

I promised a while back a carnival music post. It’s festival time in the region! I was going to post about all the winners of soca monarch so far  followed by larging up the women competing in islands where the competition hasn’t been held yet. Then I started to search for women competing and low and behold I’m beginning to side with Destra, Denise and Fay-Ann have been saying for years is true: there are so few women (competing) in soca b/c the the industry is not supportive of women. I’d never taken their position too seriously, after all, they are staples in the industry. Shameful analysis I know… this is what happens when lyrics of rum, wine, jump and wave are in my head, I’m not as sharp as I should be. So I dedicate this post to the facts, competing in soca as a women cannot be an easy road, it must also be pretty lonely. Thank you Calypso Rose and the many others for helping pave the way.

Fya Empress in St. Vincent: Rum Please

Sergie in St. Lucia: Ah Drunk

Interesting theme between songs one and two.

Shout out to the women competing in the soca monarchs in Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados and Grenda.

Tizzy in Antigua & Barbuda: Give it to Me

Nathalee in Barbados: Good Wukka Man

Nekoyan in Grenada: Miss the  Plane

Wishing everyone a safe, enjoyable and exciting carnival!

*Relevant side note: I’m not feeling any of these songs in particular, but I’m sure if were in the country having the music pushed at my non-stop on the radio, in the bus, in the car I’d have clearer favourites.

#3 f’d up people you admire- personal, regional & iconic

Our 3rd installation of the f’d up series features our sensational 6

sharing 3 people they think are pretty f’d up:

who they are + how/where we met + how they’re f’d up + links to the original video + links to their works around

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